Another thing that’s great about Thai food that it’s alive and ever-changing, with a complex meandering journey. The Tom Sab I had known as a kid has transformed and now branched out into new directions.
‘Tom Sab’ originates from Isan or northeast of Thailand. Over 20 years ago, when you referred to ‘Tom Sab’, it meant a spicy dish with a clear soup, full of chewy tripe and inner beef organs. Now, Tom Sab is an entire category of dishes.
With the rise in popularity of Goddess Guan Yin, many followers stopped eating beef and turned to pork instead. Combining the spicy soup from the northeast and a Chinese cut of pork, Tom Sab Leng was born. Leng is a Chinese name for pork backbones.
Some restaurants took Tom Sab Leng even further into the Chinese style by adding daikon. Others, added carrots reflecting the new foreign root vegetable.
Now it seems every restaurant in Bangkok has rushed to put this part Chinese, part northeast soup on the menu. Let’s find out why the soup is so good that everybody wants to claim a style to it.